Friday 1 May 2015


A brilliant result this morning means we have one less thing to worry about in our busy season, our trusty little Fiat Panda sails through its NCT (=MOT) this morning without even picking up an 'advisory'. This baby has just been our BEST EVER car of all the vehicles which have passed our way since we were wed even including all the 'posh' cars I used to run as 'company' cars and then just because our salaries allowed it. Most of those I never actually owned, as they were always on repayment deals which had you paying just the first 3 years' depreciation.

The Panda we bought as a 2nd car, a "little run about" for Liz to mainly use nipping about with Diamond. We never dreamed it would get much mileage on it or would be used for anything heavy or gruelling. It got named 'Timbuktu' as the UK number plate looked a bit like that word spelled badly. It came from the Fiat dealer in Sittingbourne (Kent), Burgess's and we happily paid off the loan over 2 years. It has turned out to be an absolute gem of a car which by now owes us nothing but keeps on keeping on. Diamond fell ill for the first time (Leukemia) within months of the car arriving so it quickly became a high mileage hospital visit/medical taxi, before being one of our emigration 'convoy' and then a builders' van and lately it is a farm run-about. It has been fitted with a tow hitch and is now also our trailer tug.

Hubbard chicks at Day 9, now with wing feathers. 
We are constantly amazed how much you can fit in it due to its blocky shape. If I buy lengths of wood now I can saw them to 8 foot lengths at the yard and they sit with one end in the passenger footwell and I can still close the back door. I don't think I could have done that in the 'posh' Citro├źn C4. Every week it happily hauls home from the feed merchant a 40 kg sack of 'Cosyglo' (smokeless fuel) plus various 20 and 25 kg sacks of animal feed as well as all our weekly shop. It is as "at home" on the long Motorway run down to Silverwoods where Liz possibly gives it more 'hammer' than it'd like. We hope to keep it going for a good while yet. We were given a rather coarse Timbuktu quote by one of our builder/contractors, but I'll save that to the end of this post.

Liz has been enjoying trying out some beeswax furniture polish. The wax cleaned up very well through the washes, boils and strains and gave us the required yellow disc which just needed the discoloured bottom sediment/scum scraping off it. This was melted and blended 4:1 with coconut oil (the only ingredients therefore being food-grade; you could happily eat this stuff if you wanted and can certainly get it all over your hands as 'hand cream' while you are polishing. Liz reports her hands and nails feeling marvellous at the end of the job.

Polishing an 'Uncle Barrie' turned wooden bowl. 
The mixture cools and semi-sets back to a white colour (the coconut oil, we guess) which remains workable provided it does not get too cold. We tried it out first on some bits of wood which didn't matter so much - the underside of our beech dining chairs and it produces a lovely lustre and a superb smell. It is now getting used to shine up our turned-wood fruit bowls and, when we can clear the table for more than a few minutes, will get a proper test on the dining table top. It is good stuff.

Testing the new polish on the underside of a chair. 
We were amazed when we looked it up, how much this stuff is worth, not that we would be selling it. We found a polish featuring turpentine and beeswax retailing at €11.59 for just 250 ml and the wax itself we have seen at £3.50 for 100g (£35 per kilo!). One of our bee-school lecturers stressed to us how important was the wax and kept reiterating that rule of thumb that bees create only 1/8 as much wax as they do honey. Comb is an amazingly strong but fine and delicate structure.

Jam jar alchemy. 
The beekeeper eventually gets the used comb 'back'; we are advised to rotate the frames out of the hive at one third per year and we are always scraping off 'brace comb' (wild comb) built by the bees in the "wrong places" in the hive. Brace comb though, is also delicate and only available in small quantities - I cleaned up the old frames from our failed hive today and gained only a smattering of fragments in the bottom of a bucket, maybe 70g?. Bees 'sweat' this stuff from glands under their abdomens and then manipulate it in their mouths to shape it into comb. Quite right that it is pricey, then!

New run for the giant rabbits
Meanwhile, the giant rabbits, Goldie and Nugget moved in to their proper big run today, having outgrown the little purpose-built 2 square meter, portable runs they have been using up to now. This is 3 m wide by 15m long and has bumpy ground, banks and trees to keep their digging instincts satisfied. They seem very happy with it and Nugget (as expected) has already started burrowing. The cat, Blue, joined them for a while, had a curious sniff inside the new 'bedroom' and play-chased them around a few times but he then got bored with them and they got bored with being chased and sat looking at him curiously.

Blue (cat) stalks the rabbits while the lambs and Polly watch.
We hope they will do a good job of keeping down the tall grasses, rushes and other herbs wich grow in there; it is the last remaining 'waste land' in this garden for which we have never really found the proper use. We tried to keep a path open through the jungle but as we never used the path it vanished, overgrown with tall vegetation.

And so to that dodgy rhyme from 804-Pete, our gravel-man. Learning that we'd come from 'Kint', he couldn't wait to tell us his story and rhyme. Allegedly a school mistress had set the class the job of fitting the word Timbuktu into a poem. 'Johnny's answer (why is it always Johnny?) was.

When Tim and I went down to 'Kint',
We met three ladies in a 'tint',
For want of something else to do,
I bucked one and Timbuktu.

I'm not about to explain it to you, so if you don't get it then ask Johnny. Have a heart - my Mum reads this. Talking of which, today that same lady, the 'Pud Lady', reaches a magnificent 88 years old today, so a big Happy Birthday, Mum from this blog.

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